I see you over there, feeling guilty about wanting to buy something for yourself. I see your gears turning, thinking, “What about my kids? Shouldn’t I be buying them something instead? Surely this money would be better spent somewhere else. Who am I to think that I deserve such a nice item? I shouldn’t do it. I’m not worth it. Even if I did buy it, I’d feel bad about it for the next week, and that definitely isn’t worth it. Even though the last time I did something nice for myself was six months ago when I got that pedicure, I still shouldn’t be so selfish. I’ve already been gone from home for about two hours. They’re going to start wondering where I am. I should go.” It isn’t a money thing. It’s a personality thing. I watched my former best friend, an emergency medicine physician who makes $260/hour, have this same conversation with herself over a $25 hat!
I know your kind. I see it every day in my line of work. I easily notice you because I was raised by one of you. And if not for my rebellious spirit and the grace of God, I would have been just like you.
But I understand you. I know why you do it. You truly believe that this is how you live your greatest life – that this self-sacrifice is your purpose for being here. I watched my mother get repetitively trampled on by significant others and bosses for most of her life. She allowed the words and opinions of other people shape her self-worth. She sacrificed her hopes and dreams to take care of her children. “It’s the way it has to be,” she told me. “I do it for you!” And I know she believed it.
But what if that wasn’t the truth? What if that was just a story that she told herself because she watched her mother do the same thing, and that’s all she ever knew? What if no one was around to teach her how to break the cycle?
You know who you are. The one who can’t accept the gift because it’s “too much”. The one who says, “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” and awkwardly tries to hand it back. The one who later thinks, “Why would someone do something so nice for me? What is her motive?” The one who doesn’t listen to the advice of others when they beg you to leave the abusive relationship. The one who doesn’t accept responsibility for deciding to stay in such a relationship but continues to recruit friends to talk about your injuries. The one who has created zero boundaries for yourself. The “yes woman”. The one who expects that other people should just know how you feel – that people should be able to tell what you need. The one who is too self-righteous to just tell someone exactly what you want. The one who only truly feels your value when you are running yourself into the ground to walk to the ends of the Earth for someone else. The one who gets pissed off when your noble efforts are not recognized as much as you thought they would be. You, who routinely sacrifices yourself into utter depletion. No wonder you have a difficult time hearing someone tell you how loved or how beautiful you are.
I am here to tell you that you have a choice.
My love, your Greatness does not come from your self-sacrifice, and it never will.
Your Greatness comes from your self-serving.
Luckily, the modern-day martyr typically is, at baseline, truly a very kind person. She need not worry about “going overboard” and becoming “too selfish”. Your fear of being selfish has pushed you much too far in the opposite direction, and it is time for you to come back to us. We need you to claim your power and to decide to take care of yourself. It is a thing that you do quite naturally for others, and you need only a change in mindset to apply it to yourself. You have a choice. You can put yourself first.
Why do we need you to be aware of the possibility of this different way of living? Because we need you at your best. Because self-care actually leads to your ability to better serve. Because if you have depleted yourself to functioning at 50%, and someone really needs you, you are only able to possibly contribute a maximum of 50% of your energy. This is called helping. You see, there is a difference between helping and serving. Helping is aiding others from your own depleted energy reserves. Serving is what happens when your own energy reserves are so full that you can tap into the energy of the whole universe! An example of this is the way people feel on mission trips. There, we can give 100+% of ourselves, stay up late, and wake up early the next morning full of energy and ready to serve more! But if this is your fifth day home alone with the children, and you’re exhausted, having already done the dishes, the laundry, vacuumed, cooked two meals, gotten ready to go to your side job, and your husband comes home asking for dinner which you didn’t have time to prepare, and you sheepishly say, “Okay, let me go make some,” you are helping, and you are playing the martyr. You are not Wonder Woman for making the dinner. Wonder Woman would have spoken her truth. She is tired. She is about to leave for work. There are lots of other options for dinner, and now there is another adult in the home who is perfectly capable of figuring out dinner plans. You do not have to do it all. You cannot do it all. And you must decide to stop trying to do it all!
Living a life of self-depletion, martyrdom, and codependence causes health problems. These lifestyles are directly linked to overeating, obesity, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid issues, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic pain, psychosis, and a slew of other medical issues. If you are raising children, know that they are aware of the choices you make. If you have an opportunity to break the cycle, please do it.
Here’s where you can start:
1. Be honest with yourself. Does any of this resonate with you? If so, you have an awareness now, and you will either consciously choose to change or consciously choose to remain a martyr.
2. Believe that it is possible. Nothing changes unless your own mindset does.
3. Speak your truth. Say exactly what you mean all the time. There is a difference between tact and sugar-coating. Be tactful instead.
4. Set boundaries. Learn to say no. Stop immediately saying yes to everything. Take a few moments to check in with yourself and see if it’s actually something you want to do. Try to remember what it feels like to actually want to do things.
5. ‘Don’t should on yourself,” one of my mentors taught us. Try to remove the word “should” from your vocabulary for a while. The expectations you have of yourself are likely far greater than those which other people actually expect from you.
6. Learn to give to yourself. You are a fantastic giver! See how good you can get at giving to YOU!
7. Learn to accept compliments and gifts by saying, “Thank you!” Don’t be weird about accepting gifts. Learn to receive! Challenge yourself and even respond with “I agree,” when someone says you look nice today.
8. Carve out time for yourself every day. Spend some time alone because chances are, you’ve lost sight of who you really are.
9. Remember what your dreams are – and fucking FOLLOW THEM! It’s not too late to do what you’ve always wanted to do. Again, by nature, you are caring and kind. You are the opposite of selfish. Your core values don’t change just because you decide to believe in yourself. You will inspire others by achieving Greatness, not by suffocating your shine.
10. Create a positive self-image. Speak only positively about yourself. If you focus on the beauty, you will find more beauty. Remember that your children may be watching, and to them, you are Superwoman. Kids do what their heroes do. Be the example.
11. Remember that when people see you healing yourself, they tend to heal themselves as well. Know that some people will choose not to heal, and that has nothing to do with you. You are not here to save everyone. You are only here to save yourself.
12. Be gentle with yourself. Change of this magnitude undoubtedly shakes shit up. Find your strongest friend, and ask for her service when needed. Yes – you, too are allowed to lean on people. None of us get through life alone, and you’re wasting time and energy by even trying. Also, you will likely mess this up a thousand times, so learn to forgive yourself. Every tiny decision you make to heal will shift you further toward your Greatness. You are worth it.
“Always remember you are braver than you think, stronger than you seem, and loved more than you know”. We are here for you.
It’s almost bathing suit season here in the panhandle. We have seen several patients lately for medical weight loss, and I feel compelled to write some truth about obesity and weight loss. Obesity is not only a cosmetic concern. Obesity often leads to negative emotions regarding our bodies and can ultimately even lead to depression. Other risk factors for obesity include reduced quality of life, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. The general trend in healthcare is to approach the treatment of obesity with changes in diet and the addition of exercise. I believe that is very helpful, but this approach alone is clearly not working for us.
What if I told you that weight loss is part of a spiritual journey? How did we become obese in the first place? Did something happen in our lives which caused us to turn to emotional eating? If so, have we dealt with that issue? Because as long as that issue is there, so is our obesity. Are we working in an environment which does not really allow us the time necessary to prepare and eat a healthy meal? Do we feel supported by our administrators to take adequate time to eat a meal? Are we trying to cram in more work while we are eating? Do you know that eating while distracted (working, watching television) usually results in the consumption of 10% more calories than eating while not distracted? Are we working long hours and only eating once per day? Are we waiting until we are starving to find something to eat, and therefore making poor food choices? Are we living in a household with other people who are not necessarily supportive of our weight loss journeys? If so, why are we surrounding ourselves with people who are not supportive of our decisions? Is this something that needs to finally be addressed?
What if food intake has less to do with weight loss than we think? In the 1950s, there was a study performed on a group of Italian immigrants in Roseto, Pennsylvania which concluded that this population of people, despite eating pasta, Italian sausage, cakes, and cookies, had a 50% lower incidence of death by heart attacks than the rest of the population at the time. This study has been continued, and after 30 years, the incidence of mortality of death by heart attacks by this group of people has risen to equal the incidence of the rest of the population. Do you know what changed? In the 50s, the people got together with friends and family and ate together and celebrated events together. They were a tight-knit community who supported each other. As time went on, families moved away from the area, other families moved in, and the cohesiveness of that group of people fell apart. This is the only thing that changed in this group. Healthy, supportive relationships with others keep us healthy! Why do we feel compelled to go to the gym with our friends? Why do we tell our friends that we are dieting? Because we intuitively need that support! And when we have it, we feel better!
Stress is the antithesis of weight loss! You may be exercising several times per day and eating as healthy as ever but not losing weight. Why is this? Because it is the American way to have that sympathetic nervous system in overdrive nearly 24/7! We have equated “busyness” with “success”, and this is a mistake! Truly successful, healthy people will tell you that they do not run themselves ragged day in and day out. Truly healthy, happy people will tell you that they have realized the importance of the parasympathetic nervous system, and they have learned how to turn it on to counter stress and high cortisol levels. Cortisol is known to block normal, healthy hormone pathways and can lead to adrenal fatigue, effective weight loss, and healthy thyroid function. The sympathetic nervous system is incredibly beneficial when we are being chased by a lion, but we were never meant to live every day in that state! What if I told you that you could meditate yourself skinny? Or yoga or deep breathe yourself out of adrenal fatigue. You absolutely can! Or how about loving yourself healthy!?
What if I told you that body shaming has a negative effect on weight loss? If you want someone to do something, what is the best way to approach it? Do you say, “I hate you. Can you take out the trash?” Do you think that will prompt someone to take out the trash for you? Isn’t it better to say, “I love you! Can you take out the trash?” Why do we think it works any differently with our bodies!? We look in the mirror and say, “You’re so fat. You can’t even run. You can’t even move well. You look terrible. I hate you”, yet we expect our bodies to change into what we want them to be. Imagine the resistance we are creating! When we spend years telling our bodies that we hate them, we create a very negative, unhealthy relationship with our bodies that only just worsens our weight problems. I think that sometimes we are afraid to love our bodies the way they are because we are afraid that may mean allowing them to stay that way. But the truth is that loving our bodies is beneficial for allowing them to change. I give my patients mantras such as: “I love my body. I am proud of the way my body moves,” to create positive thoughts and positive energy about their bodies so that their bodies are more likely to change into what they want them to be!
Rest assured, my loves. There are other options that we may not have explored which will get us bathing-suit ready this summer! And in the process, an even more magical thing may happen. We may just fall in love with ourselves!